Seton Hill grad rides internship to Super Bowl
Bryan Woodfork's first internship since graduating from Seton Hill University started July 1 and has run long by more than four weeks already, but that's perfectly fine with him.
Woodfork landed a paid internship in the fan development and community outreach department of the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks and Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders. The Seahawks' postseason run has the team — and Woodfork — headed to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., to take on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday.
“We're done after the last game,” Woodfork said of the internship's end date. “It just so happens the last game is the Super Bowl.”
Woodfork is a Pittsburgh native and 2013 Seton Hill graduate with a degree in sports management and a minor in business.
While he has been living nearly 2,500 miles away from family and friends since the start of the internship, Woodfork said the experience has been remarkable.
“It's kind of hard to believe,” said Woodfork, a Brashear High grad. “Obviously, making the Super Bowl is what you want to do every season. The fact that we're here this season is pretty special. … I was hoping for it, but to say we were going to go to the Super Bowl and I just happened to be here? I would have never guessed that.”
His family has always supported him, Woodfork said, even when it involved moving across the country just a few weeks after graduation.
“They were excited. They weren't a fan of the distance, but the fact that I got it, they were excited about,” Woodfork said of his family's reaction to learning about the internship. “They didn't discourage me from it.”
His mom, Lisa Collins, said the news was a little unnerving at first.
“But I was excited for him for the opportunity,” she said. “My baby's going across the country, but it's exciting for him as a job opportunity.”
While he has caught flak for being a Pittsburgher in the home of Starbucks and the Space Needle — especially since the Steelers defeated Seattle, 21-10, in Super Bowl XL (on Woodfork's birthday) — Woodfork and his family have adopted the Seahawks as a second-favorite team.
“That's my second team right now,” Collins said. “I'm still a Steelers fan, but I've got to root for the Seahawks since that's where he's at.”
In fan development and community outreach, Woodfork has been busy planning community activities, including school visits, events that encourage exercise and physical fitness for youths, and events involving the Seahawks Kids Club, as well as rallies for Seattle's famed “12th Man” fan base.
“Obviously coming from Pittsburgh, Steelers Nation is a serious thing, but the 12th Man is a close second,” Woodfork said of the team's fans, who set a Guinness World Record for Loudest Crowd Roar at a Stadium during a Dec. 2 game atCenturyLink Field, registering 137.6 decibels.
While being involved with the Seahawks during their Super Bowl run has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Woodfork, his mom is ready for Super Bowl Monday to arrive.
“I haven't seen him since July, so it's been a little tough,” Collins said. “I know he's going to come home to visit for a little bit after everything settles down and the Super Bowl is over and everything. … I never thought that he would be with an NFL team, even though it's an internship, being part of that realm with the Super Bowl and all that his first year out of college. It is exciting.”
Robert Zullo, associate professor of sports management at Seton Hill, said Woodfork's success after graduation isn't surprising.
“He embraced everything we put in front of him as a student,” Zullo said. “He was a resident assistant, created his own basketball tournament to support the United Way, and volunteered relentlessly within the city of Pittsburgh. He also wasn't hesitant to move across the country to pursue this opportunity. He's an example others in our major can emulate.”
Woodfork's advice for people hoping to find similarly rewarding experiences after graduation is simple.
“Play to your strengths, that would be my suggestion,” he said. “You have to stress what you're good at and whatever you want to do, you have to prove that you should be there. I highly suggest expanding and utilizing your network. Also, don't be afraid of taking risks — like moving across the country.”
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or firstname.lastname@example.org.